James Symonds


This paper was written following a recent visit by the author to the United States and Canada. It aims to provide a view of contemporary archaeological practice in England for North American readers and to draw comparisons between the working environment of field archaeologists on either side of the Atlantic. Reference is made to the relatively recent growth of commercial archaeology in England and to tensions that have emerged as a consequence of the re-structuring of the profession. It is argued that despite a substantial increase in the level of funding available from the private sector there has been little corresponding advance in research methods or output. As a result, archaeological theory and field practice have drifted ever farther apart. Attention is drawn to the dissatisfaction of a growing number of senior archaeologists who have chosen to question the orthodoxy of English "Archaeological Resource Management" (ARM), suggesting that current legislation and an over-reliance upon developer-led contracting threaten the integrity of the subject as a research discipline.